SearchScriptoriumArchives IndexSponsor

[9]
Introduction

In the third chapter of The Four Georges, Thackeray, that valiant crusader against hypocrisies and shams, strikes vigorously at the practice of bearing false witness in time of war. Referring to the struggle with France under the First Napoleon, he says:

"There was no lie we would not believe; no charge of crime which our furious prejudice would not credit. I thought at one time of making a collection of the lies which the French had written against us and we had published against them during the war: it would be a strange memorial of popular falsehood."

Mr. Baldwin, who, for the good of his countrymen, continues to administer to them one excellent moral tonic after another, each after a judicious interval, spoke to much the same effect in his late very noteworthy address to the students of Edinburgh University (November 6th), an utterance in pleasing contrast to another rectorial address to youth spoken in Scotland a twelvemonth or more before. "With war and the preparation for war," he said, "go the stratagems of diplomacy, the dropping of the code of morals, a holiday for truth, and an aftermath of cynicism.... In the arena of international rivalry and conflict men have placed patriotism above truthfulness as the indispensable virtue of statesmen."

Time, which changes most things, does not appear to have lessened the proclivity to mendacity of patriots of the baser order, nor yet the gullibility of the unreflective mass of mankind. Much of the propagandism evoked by the Great War amply proves this. All the leading belligerent nations suffered from calumny and misrepresentation manifold, yet it is probably safe to say that they usually gave as good or as bad as they received.

The book which I have been invited to introduce to the English-speaking public deals with one phase of that propagandism. Though now to us little more than a memory, its evil effects live after it, and the worst of these is that it has created a perplexing colonial problem which cannot by any [10] possibility remain as it stands to-day. Accordingly, it is the purpose of the following narrative to show wherein Germany's reputation and success as a colonial Power have been unjustly called in question, and to give reasons why the return to her of colonies is an act both of duty and of necessity.

Of the author the short biography which follows says all that should be needful to convince fair-minded and just-thinking readers that they are dealing with one who speaks with authority and whose reputation as a colonial administrator is above reproach. A man with such a record deserves both credence and a respectful hearing. Moreover, Dr. Schnee has written with moderation as well as knowledge, wisely remembering that this is a question which cannot be helped forward by violence of thought and language. Bitterness, passion, blindness, and folly did the wrong, and an unbiassed and unselfish respect for truth, justice, and right, with a clearsighted recognition of the dangers inseparable from the political situation which that wrong has created, will alone clear the way for full international understanding, so helping powerfully towards the fulfilment of Europe's urgent need of a pacified and a pacific Germany.

The service asked of me I perform with the greater readiness since during the war I exerted myself to the utmost to combat the spirit of revenge - not for the sake of the Central Powers, but for our own sake and that of a world which had been bidden to look forward to a better future - and in that spirit to reinforce the view, held by so many high-minded fellow-countrymen, that our nation should, territorially, emerge with clean because empty hands from a struggle to which the Government of the day committed it with fervid protestations of pure motive and unselfish purpose. Let us criticize some of the methods of the "old diplomacy" as we may, it had at least established, and that long ago, the wholesome tradition of renouncing territorial advantage in the event of international disputes and the resulting conferences. There were many excellent precedents of the kind for their guidance and encouragement had the Allied Powers been concerned to adhere to their [11] earliest declared war aims.1 Sound policy and national interest pointed equally to the wisdom of such an attitude, since the annexationist policy, which all too soon found favour in influential quarters, was bound to breed endless mischief and to provide fuel for further conflagrations.

Unhappily, it was the lower and unworthier choice that was eventually made in 1919. By that time the hands of all the Allied Governments were fast bound by secret agreements of which the world only heard when it was too late for effective protest. "Peoples and provinces are not to be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were mere chattels and pawns in a game. Peoples may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent." So said President Wilson on April 2, 1917. [Scriptorium: February 11, 1918!] Yet never before in history was there such a wholesale "bartering about" of human flesh and blood - not all, but in large part, no less senseless than callous - as that which took place in Paris two years later.

So it came about that all the efforts of far-thinking men and women to secure a peace of moderation, uninfluenced by bitterness and passion, were so much vain beating of the air; for let it be confessed, in fairness to the blind leaders of [12] the blind of those days, that a majority of the nation, whether consciously or from apathy, willed it so. It is related of Bishop Butler that, walking one night in the garden behind his palace, he "suddenly turned to a chaplain and amazed him by the question whether public bodies might not go mad like individuals, for in truth nothing else could account for most of the transactions in history."2 The Treaty of Versailles and the national attitudes which it rejected at the time it was drawn up may well form a monumental illustration of Butler's theory.

If on merely technical grounds I were challenged to justify my association with this book, I might point to two facts - the first, that I have frequently discussed both the good and the bad sides of the German colonial movement in books and other writings during the last thirty or more years; the second, that I prepared, by request, the handbook on "German Colonization" which was published by the British Foreign Office, as one of a large series, for the information of the members of the Paris Peace Conference.

The author of this book has a strong case, and he has made the most of it. This vindication was inevitable. Those who were our antagonists in the late war and suffered from misrepresentations which they hold to have been both ungenerous and unjust, have a perfect right to ask us, now that the atmosphere is clearer and serener, to weigh more calmly and scrupulously the many accusations offered for our consumption in the heat and passion of strife, and to compare them with the actual facts. Not less is it our duty, if we value the old reputation of our nation for veracity, fairness, and justice, to give to such answers as this careful, patient, and even indulgent consideration.

It is, perhaps, true that most men and women are weary of war controversies, and wish nothing more ardently than to forget them. But honesty and decency require of all of us that in such a matter we should do as we would be done by. I put the question to any Englishman of probity, jealous for the reputation of our own imperial heritage and our fitness to continue its custodians: what would be his attitude towards [13] indiscriminate attacks made on British colonial administration by German or any other accusers? Would he accept misrepresentation in silence and indifference, or rebut it with vigour and appeal from fiction to fact, from false witness to verity? This is what Dr. Schnee claims the right and the obligation to do, and at the end of his narrative he draws the consequences.

While accepting a general responsibility for this book, as having in some sort "edited" it, I must not be identified with every statement and phrase. The narrative came before me as a translation based upon, yet not in all points identical with, a German original, published several years ago. I have not felt it my duty to compare the text of the two versions, since Dr. Schnee, being responsible for both, was clearly entitled to vary the later text at his discretion, but I have nevertheless been at pains to verify practically all quotations and other references cited, and at my request Dr. Schnee has also furnished me with the evidence or original text, as the case might be, upon which some of his more arresting assertions are founded.

Let me say at once and quite frankly that while I do not suggest, nor does the author of this book, that all the indictments of German colonial administration which were circulated in this and other countries as part of a singularly "intensive" war propagandism were wholly baseless, I do maintain, as he does, that these indictments were a mixture of the false and the true, that they contained much culpable misrepresentation, and that the impression which they produced, and were designed to produce, on the public mind was wholly unjustified. Particularly do I endorse to the full his contention that the motives which at a later date were officially pleaded in support of the appropriation of Germany's colonies were not moral and disinterested, as the world at large was told and possibly believed at the time, but political and egoistic. Hardly anywhere, outside the countries which have benefited by the annexationist policy pursued in 1919, is a different opinion any longer held.

Dr. Schnee has a good deal to say about the failure of the Allied Governments and their representatives in Paris to honour [14] the conditions for Germany's surrender which were laid down in President Wilson's Fourteen Points of January 8, 1918, and then in the Five Points contained in his Speech to Congress of September 27, 1918, and formally endorsed by the Allied Powers; but a few supplementary words on that subject may not be out of place. It is worthy of note, as indicating the attitude of the saner section of public opinion at that time, that a few days after the date last named (October 2, 1918) the Washington correspondent of The Times quoted from the New York Evening Post (a journal known to be then in close relations with the White House) the reminder that in all his utterances the President had "eschewed anything that might lead the German nation to think that he contemplated... a peace which would contravene its legitimate economic aspirations"; and addressing his remarks to British readers the correspondent urged that it should be made "clear once for all that we do not propose permanently to penalize a regenerated German nation for the crimes of its present overlords." A little later The Times, in propriâ personâ, reprinted both the original "Fourteen Points" and the subsequent "Five Points" in full, as though assuming that these pronouncements would govern the peace settlement.

Unhappily for Europe and the world, the Fourteen Points and the Five were ignored. Wilson said in his Speech to the Senate on January 22, 1917, that the coming treaties and agreements should embody terms that would create a peace that would be "just and sure and worth guaranteeing and preserving," that would leave behind it no humiliations and no galling memories, and "not merely a peace that will serve the several interests and immediate aims of the nations engaged." The better way was known, the worse was chosen. Wilson's failure two years later to induce his colleagues in Paris to adhere to the pledges given to Germany, with his own resulting abandonment of them, is one of the most lamentable facts about the Peace Conference, and it is certain that much of the disillusionment, unsettlement, and despondency which have since settled on Europe has flowed from this source. His capitulation to the unsympathetic influences which surrounded him can only [15] be explained by one or both of two reasons - (a) the consciousness that in seeking an idealistic settlement he stood alone and had no hope of carrying through his avowed policy of "impartial good will," and (b) his eagerness to rescue from the threatened wreck of his hopes his favourite design of a League of Nations.

Even the latter he failed to secure in the form in which he had envisaged it. "That partnership," he said on December 4, 1917, "must be a partnership of peoples, not a mere partnership of Governments." Yet after the event his friend and coadjutor Robert Lansing wrote: "Whatever it may be called, or however it may be disguised, it is an alliance of the five great military Powers."3 This malign character is changing, and will doubtless disappear increasingly as time passes and the Governments of the minor States cultivate courage and independence; but the League, as at present constituted, continues in form and effect to be still far too much what President Wilson said it ought not to be.

In the determination of his ultimate attitude towards the future administration of the German colonies it is probable that President Wilson accepted at their face value all the accusations against German administration which had been assiduously circulated by official and other propagandists, just as he similarly accepted other misleading statements, emanating from French and Polish sources, which he had no means of verifying.4

[16] At the same time, it is conceivable that Wilson, who, like most forward-looking idealists, was apt to see what he wished to see, discerned in the Mandate idea later and larger possibilities, and conceived of it as the nucleus of an arrangement for placing all the undeveloped territories of the habitable earth, with their native populations, in the care of a great International Trust, so releasing them from the arbitrary rule of many conflicting States. For to the last he believed that "a great wind of moral force was moving through the world," and continued under the spell of his noble vision of "just men everywhere coming together for a common object." It may be that an International Trust will be the final solution of the problem of native territories and their exploited peoples. It is certain that the framers of the confiscatory provisions of the Treaty of Versailles have converted to that view many thoughtful people who never before gave to it sympathetic consideration. And why not? Why should so large a slice of the earth's surface be "owned " by a few privileged States, and in how many cases do these States hold their territories by titles which would, in the view of an impartial international tribunal, carry either legal or moral sanction?

Dr. Schnee makes a forcible answer to the indiscriminate charges which have been advanced by partisan advocates not merely against individual German officials and traders guilty of misdemeanour - for that would have been legitimate - but against Germany and the entire German nation. Apart altogether from their exaggerations and suppressions of fact, examples of which are plentifully given in the following pages, two important and essential considerations were culpably ignored by the authors of these charges. One is the fact that at the time that grave abuses and wrongs admittedly occurred in some of her colonies Germany was in the stage of learning and experiment, having no living colonial tradition behind her and still laboriously endeavouring to create and train the corps of officials necessary for the administration of vast native territories. In the circumstances mistakes, failures, misconduct, even crimes, were inevitable. But was the early era of any colonial empire - even our own - free from abuses? Is [17] any colonial empire entirely free from them to-day ? No allowance whatever was made for the difficulties inseparable from new tasks and utter lack of experience.

But, further, at that time and later Germany was under a militaristic form of government, and it was to this evil and its consequences, and not to any indifference on the part either of Legislature or nation, that the early "colonial scandals" were chiefly due. One of the British official publications issued with a view to defending the appropriation of Germany's colonies names a book of mine in evidence of administrative abuses. But in the book in question,5 while reciting individual instances of the ill-treatment of natives, I certainly did not generalize, and I took care to make it clear that the German nation and its Parliament had at all times shown serious concern for the well-being of the native populations, and visited with disapproval and condemnation any administrative or other shortcomings which were brought to light in the colonies, herein setting an example which certain other colonizing nations, which need not be named, might have imitated with great advantage. In particular I paid a well-deserved tribute to the fine spirit of humanitarianism invariably shown by the powerful Centre and Social-Democratic Parties. I repeat that the root-evil at the time to which the "colonial scandals" referred was the fact that the colonies were too much left to military administration and a hard type of officialism. Great Britain's success as a colonial Power has been due largely to her practice of governing as little as possible; where the Germans failed, it was mainly through governing too much. That fault, however, had been recognized and was being remedied long before the outbreak of the Great War. Yet, so far as my knowledge goes, in none of the anti-German and pro-annexation literature, with a single exception, whether that literature was written to official order or emanated from private individuals, was to be found any recognition of the facts here stated, though in bare honesty it was due.6

[18] Referring to the general national attitude to the colonies in Germany, I wrote in an edition of the book cited above published early in 1919:

      "With the reorganization of the colonial service and the cleansing of the administration, a humaner spirit has entered into the relationships between the officials and the native populations. Much has also been done for the development of the natural resources of the African colonies by the building of railways, and other measures. In these ways, and by the training of the natives to regular habits of industry, by the establishment of experimental farms, schools, hospitals, and the introduction of improved sanitation, etc., the material and moral welfare of the subject populations has been promoted.... Above all, the colonial movement has been re-established in national esteem and confidence. One by one the parties which originally either opposed it or held towards it an attitude of suspicion and indifference have come into line upon the main principle, that colonies are indispensable to Germany's future, as an outlet for population, as a source of raw materials, and a market for the product of her ever-expanding industries. There is no longer in the colonial movement any trace of the old almost childlike credulity, but its place has been taken by a disposition to treat the colonies seriously, and on the whole by a greater readiness to recognize the moral obligations which empire carries with it. Thirty years ago the Germans played with their colonies as with toys; to-day their attitude towards them is that of sober men."

These words were written months before the decision to expropriate Germany was taken, and in recalling them I would add that the fact that so much parliamentary and national [19] concern for the welfare of the colonies and their populations was exhibited even under the system of government associated with the last of the German war-lords gives ample warrant for the confident belief that to-day, when the German nation, for the first time in its history, is in effective control of national policy and affairs, these territories and peoples would count, under the care of their earlier and rightful trustees, on just, clement, and sympathetic treatment. The efficiency of German colonial administration in such matters as material development, sanitation, medical service, education and agricultural and industrial training calls for no defence, since in tropical countries the energy, enterprise, and success of the Germans in these spheres have nowhere been surpassed and seldom equalled. Indeed, Germany had not been ten years in occupation of her colonies before the British Foreign Office (1894) published a report by one of its officers stating that the development of the territories presented "a picture which must arrest the attention of the most careless observer, as showing what can be done by indomitable perseverance and patience with materials and in regions not always of the most promising description."7 The year before Sir J. S. Keltie had written of East Africa:

      "The rapidity with which the Germans have established themselves in the country and the wonderful progress already achieved have made a deep impression upon the natives - Africans, Arabs, and Indians alike - who contrast what the Germans have done in five years with the little accomplished by the English during the fifty years they were supreme at Zanzibar, forgetting that the position of the latter in the Sultan's dominions was very different from that of the former."8

Dr. Schnee has passed detailed and searching criticism upon the substance of the "colonial scandal" accusations and the methods employed in constructing the indictment. His presentment of this aspect of Germany's case may be left to speak for itself. I will only say in relation to the well-known [20] Official Blue Book on German administration in South-West Africa - a production discredited by no less capable a critic than the present Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa - that no one capable of judging the value of evidence will give much credence to lurid stories based merely on native testimony. It is notorious that even amongst civilized peoples imagination, when tricked by memory, distorted by fear, or spurred by malice, often plays havoc with fact. The war yielded countless examples of the kind in all countries. Who does not remember, for example, the horrible "true story" of the gouging out of prisoners' eyes in Belgian hospitals which our Foreign Office had the manliness to probe and nail to the counter as false? Only within the last few day the ghoulish Kadaver slander against the Germans has been repudiated, and that handsomely, by our Foreign Secretary as baseless in the House of Commons. Let me recall a recent experience of my own. In the course of travels in South Africa during the winter of 1923-4, I was told of an unmentionable act of mutilation alleged to have been perpetrated upon a British soldier by Germans in the South-West campaign. Slow of belief, I became doubly so when a little later precisely the same story was told to me in another part of the country, though this time the cruelty had been perpetrated by Boers upon a fellow-Boer who had fought on the British side. Naturally, I now regarded the tale as only another proof that rumour is apt to be "a lying jade."

The Powers which divided between them Germany's colonies professed to do so in the name of morality, and subsequently they formally undertook to administer these territories "as a sacred trust of civilization." Governments and nations which claim to be more righteous than their neighbours set themselves a high standard of conduct, and it is not always one possible of attainment. In meeting the rash and dangerous claim that annexation was called for by ethical and humanitarian considerations, Dr. Schnee has struck back, as he was justified in doing. It is well for the best of us to be compelled at times to see ourselves as others see us. Those people who can patiently and approvingly accept allegations made against [21] another country, whether ignorantly, maliciously, or even truthfully, yet are unwilling to listen to and impartially examine authenticated accusations made against their own land, have much to learn about the ethics of controversy and of conduct. Honest men and women, who want to know the truth, and to know it not partially and through glass of their own colouring, but wholly and clearly, will not resent the reminders contained in this book that, be the palliations as they may, many of the regrettable abuses alleged against the Germans under the older system of administration have occurred in our own oversea territories, and that some have not been eradicated even in the present day.

It must be allowed that in making his counter-charges against Germany's accusers - for France, Belgium, and Portugal have more to answer for than we - the author has exercised in general a commendable restraint, in strong contrast with the spirit of the publications which he is rebutting; though here allowance should rightly be made for the fact that the conditions and atmosphere of 1925 are happily different from those of the years of war. Nevertheless, there is in his indictment much that must make British readers, jealous for their country's honour and credit, feel uncomfortable, and perhaps resentful that attempts should have been made after the event to justify the forcible seizure of Germany's colonies by the claim of a moral superiority.

Enough has been said, however, about Dr. Schnee's presentation of the case for German colonization. In writing these prefatory words I am specially concerned to put forward considerations which in my view make the return to Germany of colonies - which and where is a matter of secondary moment - a matter both of honour and of policy for our own country. That some of the territories could not have been returned in any circumstances, and that she could not have been allowed to re-enter at once into custody of any of them, was, perhaps, a foregone conclusion, though Dr. Schnee may differ from me here. None the less, I believe that a great mistake was made in closing to Germany the door of Africa in particular with so unceremonious and demonstrative a bang, and hold that [22] it would have been wiser, looking to the future, to have given her the hope of resuming her place in that spacious continent at a later date, perhaps on well-considered conditions of tenure and trusteeship, which might have applied to all colonial Powers alike.

And, first, the annexation of German territory was a distinct breach of the pledge given to our nation and the world at the beginning of the war. On the eve of the outbreak of hostilities we as a people, in common with our Allies, professed that the war was one only against aggression and domination, and the Prime Minister of the day formally repudiated all intent or thought of annexation, as did his leading colleagues later. That pledge the nation, in a noble mood of moral elation, gladly received and implicitly believed. Yet the struggle had not lasted many months before the Allied Governments were drawing up secret agreements for the appropriation of vast territories in three continents!

In the later formal partition of Germany's colonies in particular, Great Britain, to use an inelegant phrase, "did herself well" - far too well for her permanent comfort and health. Those, however, who believe that our Allies are as satisfied as ourselves with arrangements so greatly to our apparent present advantage should ponder carefully the comments upon the subject which still appear from time to time in the French, Italian, and even the American Press. If our friends criticize us so freely now, what may be expected when the memories of the late military comradeship begin to fade and new men come upon the political scene to whom the ties and obligations of the present hour make no overpowering appeal?

When foreign critics talk of the German colonies they often speak as though Great Britain alone had taken them, so drawing a distinction which, though we may regard it as neither flattering nor fair, carries its own significance. The question who was primarily responsible for this defection from high principle - whether France or we - is one of little consequence. The fact that matters is that the thing was done, and that the avowals and assurances of disinterested aims which had fired [23] the early enthusiasm of the nations were thrown to the winds. What made the annexations the more indefensible, and even indecorous, was the fact that almost without a single exception Germany's colonies were no man's land before she occupied them; not one was the result of conquest in the way that most colonial empires were founded. Far from invading the rights of other white nations, her title to these territories was confirmed by formal treaties, mostly with Great Britain, who received valuable equivalents, but also with France, Spain (here it was a money transaction), Belgium, Portugal, and America. At the close of a war one of whose most solemnly avowed purposes was to re-establish the sanctity of international law and agreements, it is not comforting to be told that it is permissible to ignore territorial treaties which stand in the way of assumed national interest. That doctrine used to be imputed only to the extremer advocates of Pan-Germanism and to German militarists of the Bernhardi school.

Later the annexationist policy had to be defended and given some sort of cloke of decency, and how moral pretexts were invented for the purpose is shown in this book. It is a pitiable story which no Englishman should be able to read without feelings of humiliation. The hollowness and insincerity of the plea that Germany had proved her incapacity and unfitness to bear the responsibility of governing native populations are best proved by the fact that never before had such incapacity and unfitness been suggested, for the testimonies, official and private, were all the other way; insomuch that at the very outbreak of the war our Government was negotiating treaties under which further territories - even British - would have passed under German rule.

For myself, jealous for the good English name, I shall never cease to regard these territorial gains as sordid and ill-gotten, and their seizure as the most ungenerous act ever perpetrated in the name of the British Crown, Government, and people. If our Allies were determined to despoil Germany in the hour of her weakness, our representatives should have let them do it and take the risks alone. Their first duty to England was to honour her pledge and keep her hands clean. The right course [24] and the just course, I hold now as before, was to have acted towards Germany on the colonial question as we acted towards Belgium when the Congo excesses forced the Powers to active intervention. In neither case was the nation, as such, responsible for the misdeeds done in its name. The cure for the misgovernment of the Belgian Congo was the transfer of that region to the administrative competence of the nation. Germany, likewise, should have been given the opportunity of proving, in the changed political conditions, her capacity for just government, at first under mandate, with the promise that, on such proof being forthcoming, she should again take her place in the world as an independent colonial Power.

Referring again lately to war books which have been banished to the top shelves, it was interesting to find that this view, which I advocated from the beginning of the war, had a later spokesman in that well-informed writer, Mr. Edwyn Bevan. In his introduction to a translation of Emil Zimmermann's book, The German Empire of Central Africa (1918), he writes:

      "Supposing the political developments of the future should bring, let us say, the Social-Democratic Party to power in Germany, the question of German rule over black people would at once become a very different one.... The whole question of a German oversea empire would take on a very different complexion if the German State came to be directed by a new spirit. It would probably not be safe to count on such a spirit as durable until a certain period of time had elapsed after the end of the war."

Accordingly he proceeds to suggest a provisional occupation, as I had done before. Had that course been followed, Germany in all probability would have been again in custody of some of her territories, and much heart-burning and resentment and the certainty of future trouble would have been spared.

But, further, the seizure of the German colonies is condemned not less from the standpoint both of national and international policy and interest. Men and women who are keen and cautious enough in the regulation of their private affairs are often strangely indifferent to the effects of acts done on their behalf in the domain of politics. Our statesmen, however, [25] know well enough, though few of them have the moral courage to admit it, that the refusal to Germany of colonies, if persisted in, will inevitably lead to another war. Who in his senses can believe that a Great Power, with so enormous a commercial stake in the world and so virile and intelligent a population, which increases while that of France decreases, will, after its forty years' experience of overseas empire, be content to acquiesce permanently in the present distribution of the undeveloped native territories of Africa? It cannot be inopportune to recall some striking facts and figures bearing on this subject. Before the war Germany amongst the seven Colonial States of Europe9 had the largest home population, the fourth highest density of home population, the fourth highest rate of natural increase of population, the largest number of home inhabitants to every square mile of colonial territory, and, conversely, the smallest ratio of oversea empire to home population. Further, while since 1871 the density of population had increased in France from 171 to only 190 inhabitants to the square mile, the corresponding increase in Germany had been from 110 to 310. The peace arrangements have made more glaring the privileged position of the other colonial Powers, four of which have benefited by the war - in three cases directly, and in the fourth indirectly, at Germany's expense.

It is inconceivable, however, that Belgium, with a population of seven and a quarter millions, should have an empire of nearly a million square miles; that a decadent country like Portugal, with a population of six millions, should have an empire of equal extent; that France, with a population of 38 millions at the most,10 which is far from large enough for her home needs, should have an empire of nearly five million square [26] miles; while Germany, the third greatest industrial country in the world, with still a prolific population of some sixty-five millions, should be doomed to perpetual exclusion from the ranks of colonial Powers. Those who hold that such an inequitable status can last are welcome to their belief, but it is perilous to stake the peace of the world upon a hypothesis so slight. As late as April 10, 1916, Mr. Asquith publicly declared: "The aim of the Allies in this war is to smooth the path towards an international system ensuring the principle of equal rights for all civilized nations." The colonial stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles are a mockery of that just principle.

It is not merely a British interest in the truest sense, but a European and a world interest, that this untenable incongruity should not continue. Count Beust, as Austrian Foreign Minister, once formulated what may be called the law of territorial constriction when, alluding to the attempt to bind Russia against her will and interest by the letter of an obsolete treaty, he wrote: "Toute compression excessive a pour effet de provoquer l'expansion dans une autre direction" (Dispatch of January 1, 1867). It was the recognition of this fact that led Bismarck, after the war of 1870, to encourage France to indulge her colonial ambitions in any direction she pleased, for he argued astutely that the more she looked outward from Europe the less would be her pressure upon Germany, particularly in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine. The Wise Men of Gotham who concocted the Treaty of Versailles pretended to know better, and closed all Germany's outlets, fatuously believing that their little bolts and padlocks would withstand the hand of Time.

Those who suppose that Germany will settle down to the loss of her colonies are deceiving themselves and others. Should we in like circumstances? To ask that question is to answer it. But why should we expect the Germans to act differently than ourselves? And why should the colonial stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles be more binding upon Germany than the territorial provisions of the Treaty of Frankfort were held, with our approval, to be in the case of France? Surely not because the former was forced upon a [27] beaten adversary without parley, while the latter was laboriously negotiated, article by article, through weeks and months? Count Brockdoff-Rantzau, who, though the head of the German Delegation, refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles, said of the Allied Governments in the Weimar National Assembly: "They can apply force to us, but they cannot compel us to recognize force as law." In these words, by which the entire German nation stands, and rightly stands, he did but restate a maxim of jurisprudence which is approved by the conscience of the civilized world.

It is not enough that the retention of Germany's colonies will inevitably bring about another war, but by their action in this matter the Allied nations have given to the evil principles of conquest and revenge a sanction more formal, deliberate, and definite than ever before, and one which would justify future victors in war in proceeding to any extremes of annexation and oppression. Incidentally, it is worth while to remember that the re-seizure by France of the Congo territory ceded to Germany in 1911 in consideration of her recognition of the priority of French influence in Morocco - a recognition given by Great Britain in return for freedom of action in Egypt - has upset the North African settlement, so opening up possibilities of renewed trouble in that part of the world whenever Germany shall be able and disposed to reassert the rights of a Great Power.

The country which most suspiciously and most naturally holds back from disarmament proposals does so for the best of all reasons - that the Peace of Versailles is not a peace of reconciliation and security but one of unexampled aggravation and the sure prelude of future armed strife. The tragedy is that the Allied Governments and nations have so far refused to face the only alternatives to a prospect so terrible yet so real. For Pascal was not altogether cynical when he wrote in his Pensées that "l'homme ne veut pas qu'on lui dit la verité, il évite de la dire aux autres." It is true that all sorts of peddling little devices for promoting international amity are discussed whenever the League of Nations Assembly meets - congresses of parliamentary delegations, exchanges of teachers and [28] scholars, revisions of history teaching, the moralizing of the Press, and the rest. All these things are laudable, and in the measure of their influence they may be helpful to the end desired, but none of them will touch the deeper springs of national feeling, least of all in those countries which have seen their territories hacked and hewn with the cold brutality of a headsman's axe. Even the Pact of Locarno, so greatly to be welcomed as an earnest of returning European sanity, is only a symbol of the greater Treaty of Revision which will be necessary if the nations of the Continent are to settle down and we ourselves are to hope for any permanent revival of the old prosperity. For cautious politicians, only too painfully conscious of the limited value of the diplomatic petits soins of euphemistic language and elegant courtesies, it is thus less the substance of the Locarno negotiations and Pact than the spirit behind, and the will to make this first real adventure in reconciliation, that are of consequence. None the less, there has come to Sir Austen Chamberlain the opportunity of performing that still greater and more abiding work for European peace which the authors of the Versailles Treaty threw away. Let him, continuing on the good way he has entered, follow his excellent principles by practical measures, and the gratitude of his contemporaries and the blessings of posterity, forfeited by them, may fall to him. The after-war rôle of a Lincoln is still unfilled in Europe.

To no country in the world is the question of tranquillity and security so vital as to Great Britain, whose great need and interest is not the extension of her empire, but its consolidation and development, a task hardly as yet seriously faced and more than sufficient to tax all her available administrative capacity, commercial enterprise, and material resource, without adding to her responsibilities vast areas of two continents. Whatever may be the case with the islands of the Pacific and the portion of South-West Africa bordering on British territories, we had no need of either German East Africa, the seizure of which has already brought upon us a Nemesis in the form of a grave Indian problem, nor yet of Togo and the part of the Cameroons, in the west of the continent, which [29] we likewise bespoke as spoil so early as 1916. Perhaps no greater disservice was ever done to the British Empire than this arbitrary extension of its bounds and liabilities in a spirit of sheer cupidity, for it concentrated the world's attention upon the Empire - by no means sympathetically, whatever may be the language of diplomacy - as a never-sated dominion, and invited comparisons with less fortunate countries which could not by any possibility be to our advantage. It is not I who say this - it is what is said all over the world, and by our late Allies quite as much as by neutral nations, as anyone who follows foreign opinion may see for himself.

As if to give new force to what is here said, while this Introduction was in the press the newspapers published from Lisbon the following telegram, dated December 23rd (I quote from The Times):

      "The (Portuguese) Minister for Foreign Affairs has read to the Chamber of Deputies a telegram received from the Portuguese Ambassador in London in which he reproduced a Note received from the British Foreign Office, giving a formal assurance that there was no truth in the recent allegations in the Portuguese and foreign Press that Great Britain has designs, or encourages the designs of others, against the Portuguese colonies."

How many readers of that statement felt the sting of the reproach implied by the inquiry whether our Government contemplated robbery or was inciting other Governments thereto? While not overweighting the significance of the report which the Foreign Secretary has had to contradict - an act on his part which must be unique in the history of his great Department - the important fact to be taken to heart is that suspicions so unworthy of this country should have been entertained at all by minds naturally friendly to us. What was held to justify these suspicions? The Anglo-German treaty of 1898, providing for the partition of Portugal's colonies between the two Powers in the event of their coming into the market, created a bad impression, and this the unratified revised treaty of 1914 cannot have removed; but at least these agreements, if in dubious taste, were not aggressive. Is there [30] not evidence here of a lessened confidence in British faith, and for this is it not clear that we must go to the proceedings at Versailles in 1919? With all earnestness I would say that, in the changed temper of our restless modern world, it is not good or safe for the Empire that the faintest ground should exist for distrust of this kind.

It is also a deplorable fact that even at home the cause of Imperialism, even of the sober kind, no longer holds the imagination and sympathy of the masses of the people in the degree it did before a war which began with the renunciation of all idea of territorial greed and ended with a surfeit of that ugly passion. Those who condemn the Trade Union Congress for having recently passed with practical unanimity (for the card vote showed 3,820,000 votes against 79,000) so strong a resolution against colonization in general as at present practised might charitably ask themselves what was bound to be the effect of the bartering of native populations under the Treaty of Versailles, not to speak of the later Jubaland Pact, upon the minds of the millions of the toiling class - men and women who on the whole, whatever the immaturity of their judgments on large social and economic issues, do unquestionably in their political thinking come nearer to the basic principles of human justice, and on purely moral questions are more instinctively right, than their so-called betters. For do they misrepresent facts when they tell us that European Imperialism to-day rests more than ever on arbitrary force? A strong "civilized" nation invades independent native territory, proclaims a protectorate against the protest of its inhabitants, then when these unwilling "subjects" rudely resort to active protest declares them to be "rebels" and summarily suppresses them by machine guns, aeroplane bombs, and poison gas.11 Is [31] not that the sequence of events in Morocco and Syria at the present time? And whence come the voices raised in protest? Who hears them?

For myself, who was never other than an Imperialist, albeit of the Eighth-Commandment type, while believing as strongly as ever in the British Empire as a great and potent instrument of civilization, and, in spite of all past and present shortcomings, as an unexampled blessing to the human race, I hold that its fair fame has been injured by these shabby annexations. It is not the fault of the Empire, of course, but of the men who were untrue to its best traditions.

"Great Britain has a full share of responsibilities in the African continent," wrote before the war one of the acutest and most level-headed of British statesmen. Then why in the name of reason was this heavy and wholly unnecessary addition made to the load? The most willing of workers can only exert himself wisely, or for others beneficially, within the measure of his strength. Cannot the national ambition, enterprise and spirit of adventure of the British peoples be satisfied by giving more attention to the colonizing tasks which have fallen to us as so clearly our very own, and doing that work better than in the past, leaving something for other nations not so heavily encumbered to do? One of Dr. Schnee's greatest countrymen, whom this country has reason to remember with respect, Wilhelm von Humboldt, wrote over a hundred years ago that "in government England remains an unattainable model," and we are perhaps still justified in accepting the compliment, always with due modesty. But that is no reason why we should grudge to other peoples a fair share in the work of civilization, which is the rightful business and duty of all nations which are themselves civilized. "Not this man and that man, but all men, make up mankind, and their united tasks the tasks of mankind." Carlyle's words apply no less to nations, [32] their relationships and duties to each other and the entire human race.

There is also the money aspect of the question. Germany expended millions of pounds on the development of her colonies, and was still spending huge sums on railways, harbour works, and the like. Why should the British taxpayers, who already finance the Dominions, the Indian Dependency, and the Crown Colonies to so large an extent, be required to undertake new liabilities of this kind, and who will maintain that the return would ever justify the expenditure?

That the German colonies have so far benefited by the change of rule is a very disputable question; the evidence assembled in the following pages makes it clear that in some territories there have been confusion and retrogression in many directions. In some matters the results have been altogether and irreparably bad. Sanitation, for example, has fallen back disastrously. Further, large territories which formerly, under German rule, were open to the free commerce of the world, without preference or privilege, are now, in French hands, more or less closed preserves, to which merchandise other than French is admitted only, if at all, subject to excessive duties.

It is in the territories which have passed under French rule that the most deplorable evil of all has been introduced. Under her mandates, in direct violation both of the spirit and the letter of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and of the conditions applying to all other mandated territories, France has been given the monstrous liberty to militarize the native populations committed to her care as "a sacred trust of civilization," and actually to employ the black armies so raised in future European battlefields. France has lost no time in submitting her new black subjects to military training, enrolling them in her armies, and even employing them in the little wars which are being waged in other parts of her empire.

Do the people of these islands endorse this policy? In a speech made in the House of Commons on August 8, 1918, Mr. (now Lord) Balfour, speaking as Foreign Secretary, said:

      "I raise no abstract objection to the creation of a black army - [33] that is right or wrong according to circumstances. What I object to is giving back to Germany at the end of the war an instrument so powerful for evil as a great colonial army would be in German hands."

Without considering the question whether in the words italicized Lord Balfour reflected the moral sense of any large body of Englishmen, I would ask fair-minded readers to remember that the innuendo contained in the latter part of the quotation was not justified by anything that had happened in the past, for Germany never militarized her native territories; only France has done that. Further, some months before Mr. Balfour spoke, Dr. Solf, whose reputation as a colonial governor was of the highest,12 and who was then Colonial Secretary, explicitly disavowed any such policy in future. He said on December 21, 1917:

      "I am the only German Minister in office who has spoken about the militarization of Africa - in Leipzig, recently - and what I said was exactly the opposite, namely, that we do not desire the militarization of the black races of Africa. The best way of preventing such militarization of the black races is to agree to the new partitioning of the Continent which we ask for. If an equipoise of power all round is substituted for the unequal distribution which has prevailed hitherto, it ceases to be possible for any one colonial Power to transport black forces to Europe without exposing the colony to the danger of an attack by the equally strong neighbour Power. But the interest which any Power may have in organizing native armies will be very much diminished when there can no longer be any question of employing them in Europe or anywhere outside the colonies. Since, however, our attitude to the whole question is one of principle, we shall be ready to go farther and promote any limitation by agreement in Africa."13

[34] Nevertheless, in spite of these clear and authoritative words, which had been published in English newspapers and quoted in the Introduction to Mr. Edwyn Bevan's book already named, Lord Balfour, while silent as to the actual policy of France, which had already militarized her native territories and had sent black armies to Europe, attributed to Germany a design which had been officially disclaimed, and did this for the purpose of justifying the annexation of her colonies.

More than ever before the "instrument so powerful for evil" has been put in the hands of France by the Allied Governments, our own amongst them, and France is using it for evil. The employment of blacks - in the case of France by coercive methods, as Dr. Schnee, quoting from French sources, shows - to do the fighting of white nations is an abominable perversion of any true conception of "a sacred trust of civilization." Here are some figures which give rise to reflexion. In a statement made on December 23, 1925, before the Financial Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, on the credits for Morocco and Syria, M. Painlevé said that "the fatalities in the Moroccan campaign, from the beginning to date, had been 2,640, of whom only 920, or 35 per cent., were Frenchmen; while of 8,779 wounded and missing 2,304, or only 26 per cent., were Frenchmen. The casualties amongst other than Frenchmen would, of course, comprise members of the Foreign Legion besides the more numerous native soldiers, but no separate figures were given.

Quite recently France employed her dusky North African, Senegalese, and other natives in the dragooning of Western Germany, by that act outraging the moral sense of the whole world - friends in America have assured me that nothing has more estranged American sympathy from France than this act - and should France and Germany again come to blows the Germans might find themselves in actual warfare with their former subjects, whom they have done so much to civilize. But might not worse happen in the future? Who, [35] with a knowledge of the attitude of France towards our own country during the thirty years preceding the conclusion of the Dual Entente, and remembering how fragile French friendship is apt to prove when weighed in the scales against material interest, will dare to say that these black armies might not one day be used against her present Allies? While no pessimist, and while fully recognizing the importance of amicable relations with France - a true union of hearts there will never be - it is my profound conviction that in identifying our national policy and interests so closely and emphatically with those of France we are once again "backing the wrong horse." This distrust springs not merely from a dislike of alliances of every kind and degree, but still more from an old-fashioned habit of paying heed to the warnings of history, and hence from recognition of the fact that whereas from the founding of the German Empire in 1871 down to 1904 the successive Governments of that country never seriously stood in Great Britain's way on territorial questions, but consistently met us in a conciliatory and accommodating spirit, sometimes easing our difficulties enormously, as on the Egyptian question, France for the greater part of that time just as systematically did the reverse. The inner history of that period, when it comes to be written by the aid of unpublished dispatches, both those in public and those in private hands, will be a revelation to the next generation. Existing biographies and memorials of contemporary diplomats and statesmen already give an earnest of what may be expected. Lord Newton's Life of Lord Lyons (1913) may be cited in illustration.

Is it certain that the future will bring no repetition of the past? Those optimists who think that national characteristics can be changed in a year, a decade, or even a generation, have yet to begin the study of folk-psychology. Guizot wrote at the end of 1852, just after the Prince-President had been declared Emperor as Napoleon III: "Our country is a prey to two contradictory cravings, a craving for repose and a craving for new and violent emotions. She wishes to have her interests secured, but also to have her imagination satisfied at the same time." The words faithfully indicate a temperament and a constant conflict of impulses which in the case of France [36] European statesmen never dare to lose sight of. The craving for military glory may often slumber in French breasts, but sooner or later it breaks out afresh; and always glory of that sort is gained by one nation at the cost and to the hurt of another nation. And it is true, as the historian of modern France writes, that "the issues which divide or unite nations are regulated by unexpected contingencies which defy even the calculations of statesmen and divert the patriotic passions of peoples."

To pursue that question now, however, would be premature and futile. The British nation prefers always to learn its lessons in foreign policy in the school of chastening experience, and of a surety it will learn this lesson in due time. All I would say further on this subject is that no greater blunder could be committed by this country than to permanently alienate the German nation. The Allies have professed to put Germany in Coventry: let us take heed lest the time should come when Germany, forced to seek new friends and finding them, either in Europe or Asia, should be able to turn the tables upon her present oppressors, saying, like Coriolanus to the smug Roman citizens, "I banish you!" For the idea that such a nation can for ever, or for long, be held down is childish. In Swift's well-known story the pigmies of Lilliput regarded Gulliver, pegged down to the ground with their little pins and cords, as their prisoner at will, never dreaming that with a single turn the giant would be free. Similarly, small minds persist in regarding Germany as held in duress from which she cannot hope to escape. It is a foolish and fatal delusion, from which there will one day be a rude awakening.

I am no alarmist, but I make the confession, for what it is worth, that in my view Germany after the Treaty of Versailles is far more to be feared, both politically and economically, than ever she was before. Every statesman worthy of the name suspects it, but because the danger is not immediate, and may not be acute for a decade or two, it is counted wise policy to conceal the truth from the people; for in England to dispel a popular illusion is a greater crime than to break one of the Commandments. I see the Germany of fifty years hence - and fifty years are but as a day in a nation's history - a powerful [37] and opulent State, perhaps long before then an Empire again, though still under democratic rule, with a population of a hundred millions, the most vigorous of the Continent.14 And France - will she have fifty or only thirty millions, as may well happen if the dry-rot in her social system be not stayed? As for the British Empire, can we be quite sure, however ardently we may hope it, that it will still be an undivided unity? In any event, does anyone believe that Canada and Australia would fight for the retention of unneeded and disputed territory in East and West Africa? Anticipating such possibilities, are not the risks involved in the grasping policy pursued in 1919 too great? If we are incapable of generosity, let us at least be intelligent, and make from considerations of prudence and interest a renunciation which we may refuse to make from higher motives.

Already, indeed, we have a foretaste of what the policy of unreasoning repression is doing for that country and for us. We see it in Germany's frantic efforts to rehabilitate her industrial system and prestige, in her unequalled concentration upon and devotion to work, in the anxiety and trepidation occasioned by her every movement on the political chessboard of Europe. In 1917, while the war was at its height and it was still an open question whether conciliation or rancour, wisdom or folly, would eventually determine the peace settlement, I wrote, criticizing the wild and vindictive penal measures - so much more numerous than those of moderation and sanity - which were already proposed for Germany's benefit:

      "The more the proposals of retaliation and revenge are considered, the more will they be seen to offer no hope whatever of achieving the purpose which their authors have in view - the crippling of Germany either as a commercial or a political Power.... The surest way of stimulating Germany to the exercise of her greatest energies is to try to keep her under humiliating restraints. That is the way of human nature, and it will not alter for our convenience. Cobden wrote many words of wisdom when the Allies were endeavouring to reduce [38] Russia in the Crimean War, and these were among them: 'In estimating the difficulties of our task when undertaking to subdue such an empire to our will, it is necessary not only to ascertain the extent of suffering and privation we can inflict on its population, but the amount of mental force we evoke to sustain them in its endurance.' In spite of warnings from all sorts of sources, the British nation insisted on taking Germany too cheaply before the war and there is a danger that the mistake may be repeated after it.... Half the mistakes by the Allies in the conduct of the war, and particularly their miscalculations and want of foresight, have been due to a disposition to underrate Germany's strength in man-power, material-power, and above all, will-power. Clever theorists have persisted in confusing men with statistics and statistics with men, forgetting that it is the spirit of a nation that count first, last, and all the time. How obvious this truth is, yet how persistently it is ignored!... For myself, I should fear Germany more as a bound than a free country, and that is why I see in the policy of repression and restraint only an infinite potentiality of mischief and danger."15

Were these warnings necessary, or not? Hatred, rancour, violence, cupidity triumphed at Versailles, and we are to-day paying the penalty, and we shall continue to pay it until wisdom recovers unchallenged sway in the counsels of the nations, for then only shall we truly seek peace and ensue it. The bitter fact is that, beaten and for the moment held in restraint though she is, Germany today dominates the European stage, and conditions the peace of the Continent, in a way she never did under the Empire. The deprivations of territory imposed upon her were to have weakened her beyond hope of recovery: what they have done is to steel her spirit and inflame her nationalist fires. The hundred and one economic handicaps - some senselessly cruel, others still more senselessly petty and childish - which were to have disabled her as an industrial rival are having the effect of stimulating her exertions, enterprise, ingenuity, inventiveness, and resource in every direction, with results which are forcing themselves upon the least reflective mind. In 1914 the world was beginning to weary of [39] super-men and super-nations; but the statesmen who devised the fearful and wonderful Treaty of Versailles have done their best to create conditions which promise to evolve a State that will not only become an economic colossus amongst its fellows, but will have the power - and might in conceivable circumstances use it - to keep the whole of Europe for an indefinite time on the tenterhooks of apprehension and alarm, and to throw back for generations the inspiring ideal of a New World and a humaner civilization, the achievement of which was to have crowned and consecrated the most terrible war of history.

The truth is that the clever men who forced upon Germany the Treaty of Versailles, and therewith sacrificed the moral gains of the war, wanted to make history and to make it quickly. They made it, and it has proved very bad history, so much so that a good part of it will have to be remade. And what have the victorious nations gained in return for the follies done in their name? To recall again some wise words of Cobden: "It would be very monstrous indeed in the moral government of the world if one class of the community could permanently benefit at the expense of the misery and suffering of the rest." It is just the same with nations: every one of us knows and sees and feels it to-day. For while the money penalty imposed on Germany has had to be reduced, as demonstrably excessive, the penalty her victors are paying, heavy as it is, tends to increase. What is their plight, seven dismal years after the end of the war? Take only the Great Powers of the Entente. Russia is a heap of ruins. Of the other Allies, three are in dire financial straits, their nationals in the mass impoverished owing to the depreciation of their currency to the extent of 75 and 80 per cent, and their working classes required to work longer hours for less pay; while our own country is struggling under the threefold burden of excessive taxation, high prices, and an unparalleled volume of unemployment, most of which threatens to be permanent. "Simply the natural play of economic forces," comments the materialistic philosopher, to whom the world is an ingenious piece of machinery with a disagreeable habit of getting out of order. Granting that most of the present social ills of Europe [40] can be traced to visible economic causes and reactions, is it not clear that even on the low material plane policies of rancour and revenge do not pay in international dealings? What is the hope - or is there none? Those who believe that the universe is something more than a gaming board and human beings more than counters must also believe that it can never be right with men or nations unless they do right. In the long run selfishness and cupidity cannot prosper, for they are self-sterile, self-destructive.

I come to the conclusion of the matter. That the Treaty of Versailles - and not that Peace Treaty alone - will be radically revised sooner or later no one with even a glimmering of political insight and prescience has ever doubted. It is for statesmen to decide how the revision shall come about - whether by the rude way of nature, which so often effaces the effects of one cataclysm by a still greater cataclysm, or by the transforming influence of a new spirit of morality, conciliation, and amity amongst the nations. One of the directions in which revision is most urgent is the restoration of colonies to Germany. Why not begin here, the more since it is essentially a matter of the reapportionment of the Mandates, coupled with such supplementary territorial readjustments as the Allied Powers might arrange amongst themselves? There is reason to believe that any agreement acceptable to the Allied Powers on the Mandate question would have the general endorsement of the other States represented in the League of Nations, not a few of which would bless the act and hour that removed so potent a source of present discord and future disturbance from the political arena.

But why does Germany need colonies? Why do we need them - why does France or Belgium? Quite as much as any of the colonial Powers of Europe, and far more than most of them, Germany, as a nation of expanding population and industry, needs outlets for the former and for the latter, besides markets, an independent supply of such raw materials as tropical countries alone supply, under her direct control. The population question may not be specially urgent at the moment, but that cannot be said of the other. It would be easy to cite many impartial testimonies on both of these subjects, but I take one only because of the reputation of the author. [41] In a book published on the eve of the war Sir Harry Johnston stated the issue fairly when, after showing how Germany was losing to other nations her surplus population, he wrote:

      "'You may well be content,' is the German cry addressed to Great Britain, 'for you have occupied or earmarked such an enormous proportion of the earth's surface that you do not need to talk of extension for three centuries to come. We may have provided sufficient elbow room for the next twenty years, but that is not sufficient. Instinctively we must fight for the future, or our memories will be reproached by our children and our children's children.' This may be called 'sentimental nonsense,' because it is uttered by Germans and not by Englishmen. But we are the last of the Powers who should laugh at such a yearning. Moreover, the Germans, after all, are only expressing a divine afflatus, the determination of the best type of man to dominate the world.
      "The German people as a whole are resolved upon colonial expansion for two reasons. The first is that their country is far from producing naturally the bulk of the raw products required for their industries, and they desire to assure to themselves for the future a special control over, or access to, undeveloped regions in Asia, Africa, and America, where these raw products can be obtained or where they can be cultivated; secondly, they require to be certain, in these days of the growth of empires, that a sufficient portion of the earth's habitable area will remain free and open for the sale of German manufactured goods or industrial products."16

I do not forget that later, influenced by the invasion of Belgium, Sir Harry Johnston seemed to recant the view expressed above, though while respecting his courage I failed at the time to follow his logic. Nevertheless, whatever views we may hold regarding that illegal act or, in the light of fuller knowledge, the larger question of responsibility for the war,17 [42] the position of Germany to-day is still as this authority on colonization described it twelve years ago, and to refuse to recognize this fact is to seek certain trouble. The question of outlets for surplus population is beset by special difficulties, but it is not involved in the problem discussed in these pages, since none of the territories taken from Germany during the war offers any large scope for a white population. As a German colonial authority has said of these territories, the fertile ones are in general unhealthy, while the healthy ones are unfertile. My own opinion is that this larger problem might be best solved by an agreement with Brazil for the establishment at some future time of a politically independent German democratic State as part of that vast and sparsely populated territory. Such an arrangement, since it would not raise the Monroe Doctrine as hitherto understood, should not provoke hostility in the United States, particularly if the American Government were consulted beforehand and were kept informed of all subsequent negotiations. The German claim to the restoration of colonies on economic grounds is more urgent, and cannot be faced too soon.

There is no reason why the colonial tangle which we have unwisely created for ourselves should not be unravelled by the process of sensible bargaining, in which not only Great Britain, France, and Germany, but Belgium, Portugal, and Italy, as equally custodians of vast African territories, might all take part. Germany tells us that she needs a consolidated colonial empire, and that is our own position in South Africa and the Pacific. The acceptance of that principle should afford [43] the basis of an arrangement satisfactory to every rightful claim. Germany's needs could well be met in tropical Africa, the mandated territories in the east and west of the continent being returned as a minimum. On what conditions - whether by exchange of territory or an abatement of the indemnity -South-West Africa and the Pacific Islands, which were wrested from Germany, should be retained for the British Empire, as is desirable, is a question which would form part of such an all-round settlement; since it is a vital necessity that the tenure of these lands, now resting only on the unstable foundations of conquest and a forced treaty, devoid of legal or moral sanction, should be amicably regularized. If it should be said that it would now be difficult to return, say, Tanganyika to Germany because many British subjects have since bought estates and settled there, the answer is that in appropriating this territory we did an inexcusably foolhardy thing in the face of ample warning, and further that our Government was not in the least squeamish when, for political reasons, it was found expedient to hand over Jubaland to Italy and other African territory to Belgium, though the transfer of British nationals to new sovereignty was similarly involved in each case. Disinterested neutral nations might be disposed to remind us that no disturbances of the kind which the reinstatement of Germany in her colonies would entail could compare with the sufferings inflicted upon the thousands of innocent Germans who, after first being despoiled of their properties, were summarily exiled from the countries which they had done so much to develop and civilize.

But what about British interests and security? In our rightful concern for these let us not be blind to the fact that there are other interests in the world besides our own, and that these have an equal right to consideration. "Tell me now," said Gortchakoff to the British ambassador in St. Petersburg in a critical moment during the Anglo-Russian tension in 1877, "tell me now, what are those British interests which are threatened?" The ambassador answered in the good old diplomatic way that "England must be the judge of her own interests." That sort of quibbling is no longer possible to-day. [44] Legitimate interests are not established by any Power vis-à-vis its neighbours, still less the world at large, by simply asserting that they exist. But does the security of the Empire require that Germany shall have no colonies? Is it not obvious that its tranquillity and security would be imperilled in the highest degree by reverting to the dog-in-the-manger policy towards Germany which we followed for a time on this question in 1884-5, to the permanent injury of good relations between the two countries? Who that has taken the trouble to acquaint himself with the depth and strength of the colonial sentiment in Germany can doubt that if the policy of keeping Germany out of Africa is to be maintained, the peace of Europe will be under constant menace? In 1905 and 1911 we risked war with Germany in order to secure Morocco for France, which has no surplus population wherewith to colonize, and does not, in fact, colonize at all? Even an admirer of France so wholehearted as Mr. Bodley permits himself to speak of her colonies as "so-called." Is it wise, politic, statesmanlike to make certain a future war with Germany, in which we might stand alone, by persisting in retaining the territories which the Germans have done so much to develop and the possession of which they regard as essential alike to their economic prosperity and their national honour?

Is it not, rather, true, as Mr. Bonar Law said in the House of Commons on one occasion, that "the British Empire is large enough already, and our true interest is to develop what we have"? It is even more to the interest of the Empire now than in the past that Germany should have all reasonable scope for colonial expansion, since by endeavouring to limit her needlessly we should increase the difficulties of our own position abroad. To withhold colonies from Germany would be a declaration of war against her national aspirations. Are we prepared to face the consequences of such an attitude, and is any gain that it may promise worth the risk? On the other hand, a policy of conciliation upon this question would justify itself abundantly. There is no reason in the world why, in addition to the hostility and resentment of our late antagonists which we share in common with our Allies over the general [45] issues of the war, we should go out of our way to earn an extra portion on our own account over the colonial question. Whether they like it or not, Great Britain and Germany will again be neighbours in the future, and our action in this, perhaps more than in any other matter, will decide whether they shall be tolerably good neighbours or intolerably bad ones. To meet Germany in a conciliatory spirit on this question, and to do it voluntarily, so anticipating the risk of external pressure, would do very much to placate her national pride and to assuage the bitterness inseparable from defeat in war. We might thereby hope to succeed in dislodging from German and other minds - and it would be well worth our while - that disposition to regard the British Empire as a proper object of envy and covetousness which has been so prevalent in the past and has been further encouraged by the ill-considered action taken in 1919.

If France and Belgium wish to take the risk, let them do it alone and stand the consequences; there is no reason why British flesh and blood should be hazarded in a cause which is not worth fighting for. The likelihood is, however, that if Great Britain agreed to renounce her East and West African mandates in Germany's favour, France would promptly follow her example, glad to be gracefully released from an impossible position. It is gratifying to know that already many sober voices have been raised in France urging that this country should take the lead in the matter. I quote only one, that of M. Jean Finot, who wrote in the Revue Mondiale a short time ago:

      "There is only one way of promoting the early recovery of Germany, and that is by restoring her colonies. If England would agree to that, she would give to the world an example of great self-conquest and truly humane purposes. The German nation would then be able to develop peaceably, and could satisfy in oversea territories its superfluous force and its longing for expansion. The English friends of Germany make a somewhat pitiable spectacle when they confine their sympathy to mere words and show no disposition to perform an act which would be one both of clemency and of the highest justice."

[46] In the mass we British, to whatever part of the island realm we may belong, are a very self-centred people, who in foreign affairs seldom take the trouble to view questions from any other standpoint but our own, and even so resolutely refuse to take long views. Elsewhere I have called attention to a monumental illustration of the narrow outlook of our statesmanship in relation to the appearance in the European arena in the middle of last century of the very State with which this book is concerned.18 At that time and for years later hardly one of the statesmen responsible for the determination of British foreign policy troubled about Germany or knew anything about her: few statesmen of the present day know much, even after the war. Just as then, so since, we have persisted in closing our eyes to all foreign problems save those of the immediate present, taking no thought for the morrow, facing difficulties only when they could no longer be evaded, occasionally incurring liabilities light-heartedly without suspecting their meaning. So it came about that July, 1914, found us committed to the greatest national crisis of our history, yet nevertheless wondering how it could possibly have happened.

Has the same old policy of blindness, apathy, and inertia to be followed in regard to this colonial problem, which short-sighted men have needlessly created, and which cannot by any possibility be solved by merely ignoring it and waiting on events? Shall we once more trust to our luck when complications arise, as sooner or later they will arise unless we act promptly and judiciously, and hope that, somehow or other, we shall successfully "bungle through"? With no other interests to serve save justice, sound policy, and the safety and welfare of our common country and of the Empire, I for one utter again the urgent warning which wisdom justifies and patriotism demands. A private individual, standing outside party politics and controversies, can do no more.

Headington, Oxford, December 1925. W. H. Dawson.




1Such were the fifth article of the Protocol signed at St. Petersburg on April 4, 1826, of the conferences between the British and Russian plenipotentiaries relative to the mediation of Great Britain between Turkey and Greece; the fifth article of the Treaty of July 6, 1827, for the pacification of Greece, concluded between Great Britain, France, and Russia; the third Protocol of the Conferences of 1840 respecting the pacification of the Levant, between Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Turkey; the fourth article of the Convention of April 10, 1854, between Great Britain and France preliminary to the Crimean War; the second Protocol of the conferences of 1860 on the pacification of Syria, between Great Britain, France, Prussia, Russia, and Turkey; and the agreement of September 21,1880, by which, on the proposal of Lord Granville, France, Italy, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, with Great Britain, "in order to prove anew the entire disinterestedness with which they pursue the execution of all the stipulations of the Treaty of Berlin, (engage) not to seek in any arrangements which may be come to in consequence of their concerted action for the execution of the said Treaty in regard to the Montenegrin question, and eventually the Greek question, any acquisition of territory, any exclusive influence, or any commercial advantages for their subjects which those of every other nation may not equally obtain." ...back...

2Lord Morley's Autobiography, vol. i, pp. 69-70. ...back...

3The Peace Negociations, p. 345. ...back...

4I mention only two instances which came to my own knowledge in the course of a conversation with President Wilson on April 17, 1919. One was the ludicrous statement contained in a Memorandum circulated amongst his colleagues by M. Clemenceau, in support of the French demand for the outright annexation of the Saar Valley, that there were 150,000 inhabitants of French nationality (that is, one-fifth of the total population) in that region, the fact being that there were not a hundred (though since the French occupation the number has grown to about 12,000); and the other was the statement made in justification of the Polish claim to the full absorption of Danzig in the new Polish State, that in the past the German Government had deliberately obstructed the prosperity of the port, the fact being precisely the reverse. Both of these misapprehensions I had the opportunity of correcting and, I hope, of removing. ...back...

5The Evolution of Modern Germany. ...back...

6I refer here to the testimony borne by Mr. E. Bevan in the Introduction to The German Empire of Central Africa (1918): " It is fair to do justice to the movement for considerate treatment of the native peoples which had no doubt made some way in Germany before the war, and had found support in missionary, as well as in Social-Democratic circles." But these words state only partially and grudgingly a well-attested fact. The movement referred to was by no means confined to the Socialist Party in the Diet, and it had made great headway in practical administration, even before the tenure of the Colonial Secretaryship by Dr. Dernburg (1906 - 1910), who, with the assistance of our Colonial Office, made visits of study and comparison to British colonies. Dr. Schnee gives evidence on this point in the later pages. ...back...

7Foreign Office Miscellaneous Series, 1894, No. 346 (C 7582-7), p. 54. ...back...

8The Partition of Africa (1893), p. 259. ...back...

9Great Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Since Denmark in 1916 sold her West Indian (now Virgin) Islands to the United States only Greenland remains to her as a dependency. ...back...

10Of a population estimated in 1921 at 39¼ millions,1½ millions were foreigners. According to the Paris correspondent of The Times, the number of foreigners in France is now (November, 1925) over three millions. ...back...

11In Pan-Germanism (1913), by Mr. R. G. Usher, an American historian, a work warmly welcomed in this country during the war, there occurs the following passage which deserves thought: "The financial operations known as peaceful penetration are not exactly what we have been accustomed to consider methods of violent conquest, but by such means large numbers of the inhabitants of the smaller countries have just as certainly lost their land and the products of their labour as if an army had destroyed them. There is, perhaps, a nice discrimination to be drawn by some logicians between taking a man's property away from him or stealing a nation's independence by means of an army and by means of high finance; but if the individual or the nation suffers the same loss from both processes, and if the intent is essentially the same, it is difficult to see where the ethical grounds supporting them differ" (p. 246). These words apply far less to Germany than to some other countries. ...back...

12Cf. Mr. E. Bevan, in his Introduction to The German Empire of Central Africa: "It is fair to remember that Dr. Solf's own record as a colonial administrator is a high one in the matter of justice and solicitude for the welfare of the native peoples" (February, 1918). ...back...

13Anticipating the possible objection that in 1916 Dr. Solf had hinted at the desirability of increasing in future the number of native as well as white troops in the colonies, I would point out that he expressly stated that the object in view was that "we need not in any future war look forward to the certainty of losing our colonies over again, but rather to the possibility, at worst, of a temporary separation." Such a measure of purely defensive militarization, if it may be so called, is sanctioned by all the mandates. ...back...

14Many years ago Schmoller estimated the population of Germany in 1965 at 104,000,000; Hübbe-Schleiden estimated it at 150,000,000 in 1980; and Leroy-Beaulieu at 200,000,000 in the year 2000. ...back...

15Problems of the Peace (1917), pp. 66-70. ...back...

16Commonsense in Foreign Policy (1913), pp. 40 and 49. ...back...

17The literature on this subject is, of course, enormous and is in many languages. While writing this Introduction the striking book Les Criminels, by M. Victor Margueritte, significantly dedicated "aux survivants et à leurs fils," has fallen into my hands. It can be recommended only to truth-seekers, for others will not read it. It is to have as a sequel a volume to be called Les Victimes. Critics the least sympathetic to Germany, upon which the punitive effects of the war have been concentrated, are to-day compelled to accept President Wilson's diagnosis of the European situation which existed in 1914, that "no single fact caused the war, but that in the last analysis the whole European system is in a deeper sense responsible for the war, with its complication of alliances and understandings, a complicated texture of intrigues and espionage that unfailingly caught the whole family of nations in its meshes" (October 20, 1916). The remarkable revelations contained in Siebert's collection of Russian diplomatic documents, translated into German with the title Diplomatische Aktenstücke zur Geschichte der Ententepolitik der Vorkriegsjahre (1921), abound in proofs of the truth of Wilson's words. ...back...

18The German Empire, 1867- 1914, vol. ii, pp. 280-7. ...back...








German Colonization Past and Future:
The Truth about the German Colonies.

Dr. Heinrich Schnee
Late Governor of German East Africa